This week’s review was written by Tough Pigs pal and Fraggle enthusiast Katilyn Miller. Thanks, Katilyn!
Original air date: March 7, 1983
If you’re reading this article, I’m asking you to take five seconds and listen. Listen to whatever’s going on around you, whether you’re at work, on the bus, at home, in a coffee shop, wherever. I’ll wait.
Thanks for listening. What did you hear? People talking; music playing; nature sounds; an amalgamation of noises that if you listen long enough might form a symphony? Do you appreciate these sounds or are they a distraction? Something to be ignored while you’re achieving more important tasks? What if I suggested that these sounds and the activities that accompany them were just as important, just as valuable, as whatever else you might be doing. We just need to reconsider.
And that’s what this episode of Fraggle Rock helps us do, reconsider what it is we value and see the value in reconsidering. In the main plot we see Red and Gobo come to the realization that the sparkle of diamonds pales in comparison to the brightness of friends and the emotional connection they all have to music. All of the music in this episode is instrumental, and not only do these songs convey the same emotions and weight of the scenes they appear in, just as their wordplay-packed siblings in other episodes do, they also highlight the action and progression of our characters.
When Red and Gobo are returning to The Rock after having found a map that may lead to the lost treasure of the Fraggles, instead of enjoying the flute music they hear or joining in, they wait until the moment has passed to continue both their discussion and their journey, highlighting their distance from the essence of Fraggledom. Next, we watch them bust in on a jam session where a whole roomful of Fraggles are dancing and vibing with the sound of a sweet clarinet. Our heroes are so hyper-focused on their own venture that they do everything they can to interrupt everyone else’s moment of joyfulness. Finally, when the Fraggle Five bring the music box back to Fraggle Rock during the night (Fraggle nightgowns!) and play the song for all to hear, we watch as Red and Gobo look around and watch what music can do for the Fraggles. And that is a wonder greater than a squintillion diamonds.
We also get to compare, in this episode, what others value and see what actions they take based on perceived value. Uncle Travelling Matt, who has no attachment to human money, pours his backpack brimming with change into a fountain. Doc is exuberant with the possibilities that may lie hidden within a locked chest. He professes to love the adventure of pursuit and proves this about himself as he goes all day attempting many methods of unlocking. Sprocket practices his roller skating, though he is convinced to take a few knocks at the chest when Doc suggests that that it could be filled with old steak bones instead of gold bars.
So how do you feel now about the chatter and activity around you now? Can you find the wonder in it? Even if the jackhammering isn’t doing you any good now, perhaps it is finally fixing a pothole that’s been a nuisance for years. Or that group conversing loudly at the next table might be catching up after years of being apart. We’re surrounded by emotionally resonant moments and, like Gobo and Red, we can find them just as precious if we take the time to share the meaning.
Strongest Moment – The ending of this episode is absolute magic. When the Fraggle Five bring the music box into the Great Hall for all the Fraggles to hear, everyone comes together to enjoy, creating a TV screen glimmering as if studded with diamonds.
Weakest Moment – As the Fraggles invade the Gorg’s castle, they use Junior’s peach and garlic pie to jump over the door. All except for Boober who breaks the pie and gets stuck. After the other four retrieve the treasure, they don’t go back for him. He just meets them back in Fraggle Rock saying he got out by himself.
MVF (Most Valuable Fraggle) – Mokey. She gets it. Not only is she rocking hard during the jam session, when they open up the ancient treasure of the Fraggles, the way she says, “The ancient treasure of the Fraggles is a song,” tells us that she knew it all along.
First Appearance Of… – The Solemn Mark of the Fraggle, a pictograph which portrays a Fraggle putting their thumbs in their ears and spreading out their fingers.
Most Classic Moment – Three words: roller skating Sprocket.
Musical Highlight – While the Music Box Song at the end is touching, I want to give this one to Mokey’s Jam Session where Wembley plays the bongos, Boober, the washboard (how perfect!) and Mokey, a reeded wind instrument. And they are so into it that you almost can’t help but dance yourself.
Coolest Puppetry Effect – Sprocket on roller skates. Fraggles on a roller skate. The puppetry and sound effects merge so perfectly that I 100% believe that Sprocket is rolling around majestically and the Fraggles are careening dangerously into the caves, especially because there are times we get to see them actually rolling.
Fraggle Lore – The premise of this episode is set into motion because of Fraggle Lore. A lost treasure, the third drafting, Dwight. A map that was drawn a zillion squintillion days ago. Do Fraggles only understand time in days?
Obscure Character Watch – We see so many background creatures and Fraggles in this episode that it’s difficult to tell which ones may pop back up later. But keep a keen eye out and we’ll come back to this.
One More Thing… – We all know that diamonds would make lousy skipping stones. Jim Henson himself taught us that.
Okay, One More Thing… – I challenge the Fraggle Foodie herself, Beth Cook, to bake a peach and garlic pie and report back. But if the pie doesn’t count because it’s a Gorg food, I challenge myself to do it. I guess that would make me the Gorg Gourmet?
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by Katilyn Miller